EDC eyeing to build binary plants

By Jonathan L. Mayuga -February 28, 2020
from Business Mirror

The Energy Development Corp. (EDC) is targeting to put up binary plants in each of its existing geothermal plants in the country to boost its power-generation capacity by the end of the year.

A unit of the Lopez-owned First Gen Corp. which has the largest portfolio of power plants using clean and renewable technology, EDC is a geothermal energy industry pioneer in the Philippines.

The company said the binary plants will allow the company to enhance its power-generation capacity without building new power plants outside existing geothermal concessions.

EDC currently operates geothermal plants in Kananga and Ormoc Leyte; Valencia in Negros Oriental; Bacon in Sorsogon and Manito in Albay; and Kidapawan in North Cotabato.

Interviewed at the sidelines of the 3rd Philippine Environmental Summit in Cagayan de Oro City, Allan V. Barcena, head of Corporate Social Responsibility and Frances L. Ariola, specialist Corporate Communications of EDC bared that this year, the company is focusing on binary plants.

“When you say binary plants, these are low-capacity plants with 5 to 20 megawatts. They are easy to set up,” said Barcena. “We plan to have one per site. The source of binary plants is geothermal steam. We are now complying with the permit requirements.”

Compared to big capacity conventional power plants with a capacity of 100 megawatts  or more, binary plants do not need huge investments, as these are located inside existing geothermal concessions.

Barcena explained that most of the remaining expansion areas for geothermal energy in the Philippines are inside Protected Areas.

The permitting process for development projects in Protected Areas are “very tedious,” especially because existing law prohibits disruption of ecosystems and wildlife that thrives in these areas that are set aside for conservation.

Currently, the geothermal plants of EDC have a power generation capacity of up to 1,400 megawatts.

“These binary plants are actually to maximize steam and there’s no need to build plants,” he said.

He added that in doing so, EDC will be pioneering the reinjection technology, a heat recovery process wherein excess heat from wet steam will be harvested and reinjected in the reservoir. Over time, the excess heat adds to the sustainability of power-generation capacity of the plants.

“Steam in the Philippines is wet steam.  Before it gets to the turbine, the water called brine are usually thrown away. Here, we will harvest them and reinject it into reservoir and overtime, to produce more heat,” he said.

He also said the binary plants the company plans to build are all inside the geothermal concession, hence, it will not require the company to undergo a tedious permitting process compared to building a new plant outside existing concession areas.

EDC, he said, does not have new concession areas and do not plan to go inside Protected Areas because of the challenge of the permitting process.  Also, he said it has something to do with the company’s strong commitment to protecting the environment.

The company, which has a total capacity of close to 1,500 megawatts, also operates a solar farm in Burgos, Ilocos Norte, and Hydropower plant in Pantabangan, Nueva Ecija.  It is venturing in solar rooftop power generation, targeting shopping malls.

EDC has a share of 37 percent of the total renewable energy power generation the capacity of the Philippines.